With football season winding down, the NBA kicked off its annual slate of nationally televised Saturday games on ABC. There’s a ton of basketball that needs to take place between now and the end of the season, but thanks to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers, the bar for the best ABC Saturday game we’ll see this year was set extremely high.
The two teams played a thriller, with the Thunder walking into Philadelphia and stealing a 117-115 win out from under the Sixers’ noses. This was thanks to a huge afternoon from Paul George, as the MVP candidate came up gigantic in the game’s waning moments.
Before that, though, Philly fought back from an 11-point fourth quarter deficit, making things close and eventually taking the lead with just under six minutes left. Things went back-and-forth from there, with the biggest stars on both teams — George and Russell Westbrook for Oklahoma City, Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid, and Ben Simmons for Philadelphia — making plays all over the place.
In fact, despite a rough afternoon on the whole, Butler did everything he could to will the Sixers to a win. He came alive down the stretch, and after Embiid hit three free throws to tie the game at 113, Butler capitalized on a bad pass from Thunder guard Dennis Schröder to put Philadelphia ahead.